One of the cornerstones of any traffic generation strategy is getting backlinks to your site. When you have other sites that link to your site the search engines will take notice — at least that is the theory.
But it isn’t as simple as it should be, at least not for an Integrity Marketer.
What Hats Do You Wear?
The basic strategy is straight forward:
- Write content (preferably quality) that engages readers and encourages them to take action (e.g. buy, opt in, click on affiliate or CPA link)
- Make sure content is optimized for keyword and do on page SEO
- Get links from other sites to your page (i.e. backlinks)
- Watch traffic (and cash 8=) roll in
The problems arise when you try to follow these steps without putting on a black (or even grey) hat.
You see the work of the black hats all the time:
- content that is scraped, spun, misleading and/or full of hype
- sites that use keyword stuffing and misleading keywords
- backlinks from link farms and blog/forum spam (especially bots)
Most of the black hat techniques involve very little work, generate a lot of content, backlinks and, unfortunately, traffic. Because of the extreme automation you can just set it and it will create hundreds of posts and backlinks out the wazoo.
The question is, do you want wazoo backlinks and content to match?
I’m trusting that your answer is “No!” Perhaps even with some expletives that might need to be deleted 8=)
But how do you compete with the sheer volume that the black hat techniques bring?
I think this is where so many people slide into their grey hats — especially when it comes to backlinks but I do see it in content as well.
I’ve heard of people outsourcing their backlink creation. Hiring someone to create 1,000 links by commenting on blogs, forums and social media sites. These comments are rarely relevant to the article in question and are often done by bots anyway. So they’re just spam comments.
Or people will create dozens of alternate accounts and post their links several times to generate some buzz on sites like StumbleUpon or Twitter.
But it’s wrong! Completely wrong!
I know that sounds harsh, and we all need to do something to get our quality content seen. I mean, the stuff that we create is much better than the spun garbage the black hats push that still seems to climb to the #1 spot in the search engines.
But the problem is that it is dishonest. Social media sites don’t like it. Bloggers and forum moderators don’t like it. Face it — when you get spam comments on your blog, how do you feel about it?
So why would you do that to someone else?
As far as I’m concerned, white hat techniques are the only way to go.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be aggressive with your backlink campaign. Just be honest.
When you post a comment on a blog or forum, do it within the bounds of their comment policy. If you don’t know what it is, then assume that they want a real name, not keywords in the Name field. Some will accept a name and keyword combination. But more and more blogs are just canning the comments that have keywords in the name field.
Make sure that you’ve actually contributed to the conversation. “Amen sister” is fine if you’re a regular and people know you there. But for your first few posts actually say something meaningful, even if it is a contrary opinion. And make sure that you regularly contribute meaningful comments.
Don’t include links back to your article unless it relates to the post — and I mean it is really relevant, not just in the same niche. You’re getting a link to your home page for free so don’t get greedy.
Even if multiple accounts are allowed, don’t pretend to be someone completely different in order to promote yourself. I have multiple Twitter accounts so that I can deal with multiple niches, but they all have my name on them. I do some cross promotion when it’s appropriate, but I’m up front about it. At some point I may decide to use pseudonyms. But if I do, I won’t use one to promote the other.
But That’s Hard Work
There’s the rub. Keeping the white hat on will require much more effort. But in the long run I trust that it will lead to greater exposure and trust for those who put in the effort.
I like what it says in Psalm 1:1-3:
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers. (NIV)
There is always the chance that the white hats will not prevail, but I’d rather be a poor white hat than a successful grey.